Notes from the Board

Five members of the WISE Women’s Business Center advisory board share their stories, memories and advice.

Madelyn Hornstein
Dermody, Burke & Brown CEO

SWM: How did you get involved with WISE?
A number of my business associates and/or clients had been involved with WISE, so I believe they mentioned my name when WISE was looking to add to their advisory board. Once I learned more about the organization, I determined it was not only an organization that I wanted to support, but also one for which I could justify the time commitment necessary for board involvement.

SWM: Share a favorite memory from past years of the Symposium.
There were a number of different breakout session topics that caught my eye when I was considering attending my first Symposium. It was in the Carrier Dome and we actually had one of the classes in the home team locker room, which was very cool to see. I left the dome that day feeling I had learned some things and met a few new people — the Symposium was time well spent!

SWM: If you could give one piece of advice to young female entrepreneurs in Syracuse, what would it be?
I applaud and respect anyone who wants to go into business for themselves, but if you don’t surround yourself with the right advisors to help keep track of and report the income and expenses of your new business, you may find yourself in violation of the rules, and penalties may ensue. Setting up good processes at the beginning is key to staying in business. A great book for anyone considering branching out on their own is “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber.

Alyse Holstein
hpg partners, llc Founder and CEO

SWM: How did you get involved with WISE?
I became interested in WISE five years ago when my cousin Rita Reicher, who was on the WISE board, spoke highly and passionately about its mission and successful outcomes. She sold me! The importance of helping women achieve their dreams personally and professionally has been an important part my life and a core value of my company. I’m happy and honored to be a part of the WISE board, and work with this outstanding group of women and our professional leaders, Joanne Lenweaver and Alex Waterbury! There are so many other talented, driven women associated with WISE. I hope you take advantage of this amazing organization, whether as a client or by helping others achieve their business goals.

SWM: Share a favorite memory from past years of the Symposium.
I was fortunate to attend the WISE Symposium when Barbara Corcoran was keynote speaker. Barbara’s remarks about her journey and the obstacles she faced personally and professionally had such an impact on me — and I’m sure on everyone else in the room, too. I left feeling totally inspired and invigorated by Barbara, and have gone on to share her powerful story with others.

SWM: If you could give one piece of advice to young female entrepreneurs in Syracuse, what would it be?
Here are a few:
• You never know who you will meet, even at the most unusual of places, so, always have your business cards with you.
• Follow-up after a meeting or call in a shorter timespan is key to success.
• A note really has a positive impact on getting the outcome you were looking to achieve.
• Ask for referrals for your business. People are willing to share if you ask personally and in your own comfort zone.
• If you believe it, you can achieve it. This is my personal mantra!

Gwen WebberMcLeod
Gwen, Inc. President and CEO

SWM: How did you get involved with WISE?
I was among the first group of women who explored the possibility of expanding the Symposium to include a federally-funded women’s business center. Following the creation of the WISE Women’s Business Center, I was regularly invited to speak at the Symposium and now proudly serve as the chair of the board.

SWM: Share a favorite memory from past years of the Symposium.
I have many favorite memories from the Symposiums. My most favorite is watching women I mentor into entrepreneurship attend the Symposium as business owners focused on living their wildest entrepreneurial dreams.

SWM: If you could give one piece of advice to young female entrepreneurs in Syracuse, what would it be?
Be bold and courageous in the pursuit of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not for the meek of heart. Focus on how to make money doing something you love. Wrap your business dream up in good business practices. Strategically launch your business — and live your wildest dreams.

Laura Serway
Laci’s Tapas Bar Co-owner

SWM: How did you get involved with WISE?
We were asked to speak one year, and I thought, “Hmmm why us?” We then realized we are two successful business women with a dream, determination and passion, along with skill and ability — that was why. Plus, we put humor in all we do. So no matter what, we will at least be able to entertain the crowd. After being asked to share our message, we took more of an interest in the center, and became determined to help others help themselves in business and in life.

SWM: Share a favorite memory from past years of the Symposium.
The day we were slated to speak, we nearly cancelled. My father had just passed away, and his first calling hours were scheduled for the afternoon, just a few hours after we were supposed to speak. After thinking it over, I knew my father would want us to move forward, so we did. The best moment happened thanks to the way the projector was set up. We entered the stage from behind the screen, and people in the audience could see our silhouette. Cindy went toward one side of the stage and I headed toward the other just after we kissed behind the screen. The crowd just laughed and loved it!

SWM: If you could give one piece of advice to young female entrepreneurs in Syracuse, what would it be?
Following your heart, happiness, kindness and our community should be your priorities in life. This is a short time we have on earth. How do you want to be best remembered? Make a difference that’s created from the bottom of your heart.

Briana Fundalinski
Hancock Estabrook Attorney

SWM: How did you get involved with WISE?
I originally began giving presentations at the WISE Women’s Business Center as part of the “Ask the Attorneys” series Joanne, Alex and I started a couple years ago. Hancock Estabrook does presentations on such topics as: choice of entity, MWBE certification in New York State, partnership arrangements, intellectual property, and labor and employment. I was subsequently asked to join the advisory board.

SWM: Share a favorite memory from past years of the Symposium.
I don’t really have a single favorite memory of the Symposiums. I will say my favorite part about the symposiums is the atmosphere. It’s incredibly uplifting. There’s such a camaraderie among the women and attendees that brings a feeling of strength, excitement and hope. Every woman entrepreneur in attendance is an inspiration to me. Being around them and hearing their dreams and achievements is what makes the symposiums so great.

SWM: If you could give one piece of advice to young female entrepreneurs in Syracuse, what would it be?
Find a good team at the onset of your entrepreneurial journey and pick good people up along the way. When I say team, I mean your mentors, advisors and role models. It’s important to have people you trust, look up to and can go to for advice. Those are the people who you will confide in, lean on and grow from through your entrepreneurial journey.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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